North vs South in London iDebate Cup

Tech City College hosted the first London iDebate Cup on Saturday. At iDebate we believe passionately in debate’s use as a tool to develop a wide range of very important skills for young people’s futures in employment. Skills like critical thinking (looking at your opponent’s arguments), creativity (how to attack that nicely buttressed debate point), analysis (make sure your arguments go in depth) as well as the obvious ones like communications and public speaking. As such our focus is on providing training, with the opportunity to debate in public.

There is however, no denying that for many debaters what debating is for is competition. To have a day filled with debates competing with others on various interesting topics and ideas. With iDebate setting up clubs throughout the Autumn term this was the first opportunity for those attending our World Debate Clubs to take part in competitive debates

Saturday the 9th dawned an absolutely frigid day. It was warm in Tech City College, but would anyone make it there? Unfortunately, we had several teams cancel with members sick, and many who made it ended up without their teammates.

No matter. It is a far greater test of ability to adapt to find yourself debating in mixed teams with people you have not met or had a chance to practice with. We had ended up with a division along that perennial London divide; the river Thames. It was North London Vs South London.

On to the debates. First, we had This House Would ban all research into self-aware artificial intelligence. A debate about where technology is going. Is self-aware artificial intelligence dangerous a la Terminator or potentially the greatest boon ever; no more work, everything provided, a clean planet etc.? A complex debate to pitch at beginners.

Next, we moved on to This House Would prevent photoshopped and airbrushed photos being used in magazines and newspapers. Although the motion did not mention it the debaters correctly picked up that the main aim of the debate was about issues such as body image and feminism. As such the debate revolved around questions of how different photoshopping is to using filters on increasingly popular apps like snapchat.

Finally, we had a debate that was complex for the judges. In This House Believes That we should never send aid to dictatorships both sides took very similar positions. Proposition argued that while we should never send aid to dictatorships it would sometimes be OK to send aid directly to the people in a country that happens to be a dictatorship. Opposition similarly argued that even if you don’t like the regime you should not deny aid to those who are needy in that country. This lead to the debate hinging on whether the donors need the cooperation of the host government to provide food aid, or development aid, or similar non-monetary aid.

With all the debates over who won? Our experienced team of judges believed that North London had the edge, having won two of three thus crowning them champions for 2017. Will everyone be back for a rematch in 2018? Maybe. Maybe not. But what really matters is the learning through the competition. One judge remarked she was “amazed by the improvement from the first to last debate”.

iDebate would particularly like to thank the IDEA Fellows and other experienced debaters who gave up their time. They were essential help in judging, providing advice on debating to teams while judges deliberated on their verdict, and providing general help in organising.